Snoopy hitches a ride on NASA’s moon rocket
A Snoopy plush toy has a big job for the historic launch.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — One small step for man, one giant leap for Snoopy.
The beloved cartoon beagle is on board for NASA’s Artemis I mission, which finally launched early Wednesday after three failed attempts and a few hurricanes.
The small plush version of the iconic “Peanuts” character has an important role: the weightlessness indicator. These small objects are carried on board to know when a spacecraft reaches “the weightlessness of microgravity”, explains NASA. Soft, lightweight toys like stuffed animals are good for the job because they can’t break anything or push buttons.
Snoopy is dressed for the occasion in a custom orange flight suit, complete with tiny boots, gloves and a NASA patch. He will board the Orion capsule with a dummy and two “passengers” testing for radiation.
The dreamy beagle is no stranger to NASA missions. Apollo X astronauts turned to “Peanuts” for nicknames – the command module was called Charlie Brown and the lunar module was Snoopy. Another plush Snoopy has been on the International Space Station, and NASA still honors employees with the Silver Snoopy Award.
On a much grander scale, the dressed beagle is a recent favorite in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Craig Schulz, son of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, said his father might have considered the NASA tributes “the greatest honor that could ever be given to his comic.”
“Space travel has almost become so normalized now,” Schulz told The Associated Press last year. “People’s attention spans are a bit low, for the most part. So when you inject a bit of that entertaining Snoopy, you’re going to capture the audience.”
Snoopy’s trip has always been part of the plan for the test flight, which has seen several delays and canceled launch attempts since its original target date earlier this year. The Orion spacecraft is about to circle the moon and return to Earth to make sure everything is working for future crewed missions.
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Snoopy’s trip around the moon isn’t just for entertainment – NASA’s collaborations with Peanuts are also meant to educate. Peanuts and partner GoNoodle have previously released activities and short videos for kids to follow Snoopy through space, such as a two-minute video explaining how and why the doll was made. And last year, Apple TV+ released a new season of “Snoopy in Space” about planets and the search for extraterrestrial life.